London 2012: At training venues and homes across the world, rooms in the Olympic athletes' village and border checkpoints on entry to the UK, the cat-and-mouse game between drug cheats and the doping police is in full swing, AP reports today. "The more cheats we can catch is the better for the clean athletes," IOC President Jacques Rogge told the agency. The IOC and London organizers will be conducting more than 5,000 urine and blood tests overall, up from 4,770 in Beijing four years ago. Nearly 40 percent of the tests are being carried out before the games start on July 27 to try to nab athletes when they're more likely to be doping. During the games, which run until Aug. 12, the top five finishers - plus two other athletes chosen at random - will be tested. Athletes are also subject to surprise out-of-competition controls at any time and any place. Samples will again be saved for eight years to allow for retroactive testing. "I think it's the tightest net we have ever had," IOC vice president Thomas Bach said. In Beijing four years ago, there were 14 positive tests among athletes and six among horses in the equestrian competition. Later, retests of the Beijing samples caught five more athletes for use of CERA, an advanced version of the blood-boosting drug EPO. Rashid Ramzi of Bahrain was retroactively stripped of his gold medal in the 1,500 meters. Drug-testers have another new weapon at their disposal: the athlete biological passport. The program, adopted by cycling, track and field, swimming and other sports, tracks an athlete's blood profile over time. Changes can indicate doping and lead to sanctions without a positive test.
Australia: Retired Aussie 1500m free great Grant Hackett has refuted his former coach's claim that a sleeping pill now banned by Australia's Olympic Committee cost him a third consecutive 1,500 metres freestyle gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Games. Denis Cotterell had told media that he blamed the use of Stilnox, a brand of the medication zolpidem, for the swimmer's "lack of clarity" in the final at Beijing. Hackett took silver by a slither behind Oussama Mellouli (TUN). "In 12 years of racing international 1500m freestyles across Olympic, world championships and Commonwealth Games, I managed to lose twice, and that's one of those races," Hackett told local radio station Triple M. "I just thought, that's a load of rubbish. The person that should be blamed, the person who had the poor race strategy that day, was myself. Was I asleep? Was I affected by Stilnox? That's just a load of rubbish."
Have a good last weekend before the Games begin in London - and watch out for our SwimNews special next week.